Colleges in DC region move up in 2021 US News Best Colleges rankings

D.C.-area colleges moved up in the 2021 U.S. News & World Report rankings after some methodology changes this year.

The University of Maryland College Park rose to No. 58 in national colleges, up from No. 64 last year.

Johns Hopkins University moved up from No. 10 to No. 9.

Howard University jumped from No. 104 to No. 80.

George Washington University moved from No. 70 to No. 66.

American University went from No. 77 to No. 76.

Gallaudet moved from No. 179 to No. 124.

The University of Virginia moved from No. 28 to No. 26.

In the national liberal arts colleges category, the United States Naval Academy rose 11 places to make the top 10 for the first time. It tied for No. 6.

The top three national colleges are still Princeton in New Jersey, Harvard in Massachusetts and Columbia in New York.

The top three national liberal arts colleges remain Williams in Massachusetts, Amherst in Massachusetts and Swarthmore in Pennsylvania.


There are a few changes this year when it comes to the rankings themselves. The system now measures student debt.

It uses two measures, accumulated federal loan debt among full-time undergraduate borrowers at graduation and the percentage of full-time undergraduates who borrowed federal loans.

“We know that student debt is a big concern for many families,” said Anita Narayan, managing editor for education at U.S. News & World Report. “This is really a way for us to address that whole issue of college affordability and a way for us to hold schools accountable for the cost of college,” she said.

The rankings also now add schools that don’t use the SAT or ACT for admissions decisions. They were previously listed as unranked.

“A school’s test score admissions policy no longer affects its inclusion in the rankings, and that was one important change that we wanted to make this year,” Narayan said. “We can see that change happening. A lot of schools are making these decisions about test scores.”

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up